The FIA, according to Lewis Hamilton, only broke the safety car regulations once during the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 2022 Italian Grand Prix ended behind the safety car after Daniel Ricciardo, who had been on track to finish in the points, lost power in his McLaren and was forced to pull over to the side of the road.
With six circuits to go when the Australian retired, it was unclear how the race would conclude; whether it would be a red flag restart, a last-lap shootout, or what really happened-every vehicle going slowly behind the leading Aston Martin Safety Car.
The FIA defended its decision, claiming that they were following agreed-upon protocols—yet those procedures were not followed the previous time such a decision was required, at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen arrived in Abu Dhabi equal on points at the end of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, knowing it was a winner-take-all race for the championship.
Hamilton took advantage early on and appeared to be on pace for one of his easier title victories until a late safety car call changed the course of history.
The event became one of the most infamous in Formula One history, as well as one of the most divisive in recent memory. Hamilton pondered retirement, and race director Michael Masi was sacked after a lawsuit was threatened and subsequently dropped.
Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth in Italy, couldn’t help but remember what happened last year at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton believes the FIA followed the rules during the Monza safety car call.
“It always brings back memories—shouldn’t that be the norm?” Hamilton remarked on Sky Sports F1.
“In the history of the sport, they’ve only disobeyed the rules once.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Hamilton was correct, saying, “This time, they obeyed the regulations.”
“The race director’s decision will be questioned,” Wolff said to Sky Sports F1.
They could have done it a lap sooner or let [George Russell] pass, but at the very least they respected the regulations. “
“They accepted that the race would be stopped by a safety car.” This is exactly as it should be.
Unlike in Abu Dhabi, the safety car call at Monza enabled Hamilton to retain vehicles on fresher tyres behind him, securing his P5 finish.